WARNING: not for those with weak stomachs.

HELLO! How’s life everyone?

Today, my advisor and seven other students and I took a trip down to Chariton, Iowa to help the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) examine bobcats, otters, foxes, and raccoons. These animals were primarily roadkill that had been given to the DNR for research. When I first showed up and walked into a garage full of dead animals, I worried about what I had signed up for. The smell was horrid.

Once we got started, however, I was SO glad I had decided to come. I learned how to extract teeth to determine the animals’ age, remove the skin, and find the reproductive tracts in the females to determine whether she had been or was currently pregnant. If you’re interested, to extract the teeth you remove the lower jaw, put it in a crock pot of water for an hour, and then the tooth pops right out. To remove the skin, you hang the animal upside-down, and start cutting at the legs. You continue down, cutting and pulling the skin away from the muscle and fat to eventually get a beautiful pelt that the DNR can sell at auction to raise money! To determine if the bobcat is or was pregnant, you look to see if the uterus was scarred from where the fertilized egg had implanted. Many of the females had been pregnant, and one even had a pair of twins inside her! What I found most interesting was to see how the fox was literally all muscle, and the raccoon (because of its diet) had TONS of white fat.

040813 Putnam picture

Here is a picture with the fox before I skinned it (I’ll spare you the after picture). I’m just still in awe that I was able to, as a sophomore, experience something I didn’t imagine myself doing in a million years. Because honestly, you never know when you’ll be stranded in the woods and will need to know how to skin an animal (kidding, mostly). Today reminded me why I wanted to be a Biology major in the first place. Hopefully I can remember this when finals week hits!

– Posted by Savannah

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